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Golden Beet and Pickled Onion Salad to Take on a Picnic (or Eat at Home)

June 20, 2011 | Tags: Deborah Madison , Food , Vegetables | Post comment

Golden Beet and Pickled Onion Salad to Take on a Picnic (or Eat at Home)

When I was in Mexico last month I bought some brightly colored plastic bowls and plates thinking they’d be just the thing for picnics, and they are. Hot weather is coming on and holidays, like the 4th of July, so I’m thinking of vegetables as salads, foods you can take along on an outing, or have at the ready in the refrigerator.  Beet salads are so sturdy and easy to make that they lend themselves to both treatments.  They can also be endlessly varied, don’t require a dressing, and with beets coming into farmers markets everywhere, this is their season.

I’m going to be very loose with measurements here because exact ones aren’t needed. You can cook just a few small beets or a mess of them and it goes the same way.  Also, feel free to mix colors here. I thought these little goldens looked spectacular, plus they came with tons of delicious leaves, but there’s no reason not to mix colors. Just take care to add the red ones last as they do stain.

The beets can be steamed days ahead of your actual plan to use them.


fresh beets
olive oil, to taste
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar
Kalamata olives
1 red onion, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
something green, like purslane sprigs, the beet greens, (cooked) or shredded spinach leaves
slivers of ricotta salata, feta, or goat cheese


1. Slice the stems off the beets, leaving about an inch. Also leave the tales so you can keep the juices in the beets. Steam over simmering water until tender when you pierce them with a knife, but not mushy. This will take 25 minutes for small beets, longer as they get bigger.  Once they’re done, you can refrigerate them, unpeeled until you’re ready to makes this salad, even if it’s a few days later.

2.  Pull the skins off the beets and cut them into wedges.  Put them in a bowl and toss them with a small amount of olive oil, vinegar to taste, and season with salt and pepper.

3.  Toss the red onion slices in more vinegar and let them stand 15 minutes or so to color.

4.  Arrange or toss the beets with the onions, a few olives, the cheese and that something green should you have any.  If you wish to include some herbs, the following are good: dill, parsley, cilantro, basil, and anise seed.